Senate special committee to provide mechanism for implementation of recommendations of the senate committees in its meeting discussed the matter of resolving the matter in getting visas of Pakistanis staying in European countries by issuing Pakistani origin cards. The committee was of the view that Pakistanis living abroad should be given the facility of these cards as the absence of this facility is also leading to use of illegal channels. Director international immigration NADRA told the committee that the cards have not discontinued and are being issued regularly, however, case of those people who showed themselves as Afghan nationals and are now reclaiming the Pakistani citizenship have to go through more scrutiny. The committee was told that those cases who are related to afghan nationals have to be routed through ministry of interior and they are issued Pakistani Origin cards after a clearance of the ministry of interior. The Committee decided to listen to the ministry of interior in the next meeting.
The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Dilawar Khan here at the Parliament House on Tuesday and was attended among others by senators Nighat Mirza, Naseebullah Bazai, Moulvi Faiz, Haji Momin Khan Afridi, Khanzada Khan, Ayub Khan, Waleed Iqbal, Sajjad Hussain Turi, Aurangzeb Khan, Asad Ali Junejo, Sitara Ayaz, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, senior officials from Foreign Office, Finance, Safron, State Bank of Pakistan, Bureau of Immigration, NADRA and PEIRA.
Regarding the problems being faced by pensioners in merged districts of Kurram and Orakzai agency the committee was told that after the merger, this matter now comes under the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. An amount of 64.1 million is recoverable from pensioners who were overpaid and 1.4 million is payable to pensioners. The Committee decided to call the provincial government representative in next meeting to hear on the issue.
Regarding the problems faced by expatriates due to biometric system in the banks the Committee was told by Executive Director State Bank of Pakistan that more than 95 % overseas Pakistanis’ bank accounts have been biometrically verified. He said that SBP is cognizant of the problems faced by people in far flung areas who are not well educated and well aware about the requirements but Pakistan at this stage cannot afford to let the banking system go unverified. He said that the SBP has relaxed the biometric verification requirement for people who cannot come back for the purpose and has put in place the provision of presenting just copies of passport and visa to complete the verification. Both sides agreed that this new policy needs to be publicized and advertised properly through banks as well as through media of mass communication to reach out to people who cannot read and understand the notifications in English so that people do not use alternate illegal money transfer channels.
While discussing the matter of charging fee in holidays as well in private educational institutions the Committee was told by Chairman PIERA that under a Supreme Court decision of December 2012 the private educational institutions were asked to refund 50% of the fee charged in holidays in 2018 and were also directed to rationalize their fee by reducing it by 20%. The private institutions were also asked to bring their fee structure to the same level as they were in January 2017 and then freeze the amount. The Committee members observed that these orders are not being implemented and the schools before reducing the 20% have already increased their fee. PIERA was directed to bring in next meeting a comparative analysis of the grade wise fee structure of big chains of private educational institutions operating in Islamabad. The minister also observed that many private schools are looting the public in name of education and their content and other practices also need to be checked.
The Committee disagreed with the proposal of a public petition asking for giving engineer status to B-Tech graduates and remarked that the distinction between both kinds of degrees needs to be maintained.